Education & Family

Children's science questions 'stump many parents'

pupils at big bang fair
Image caption Parents are frustrated and embarrassed by being unable to answer youngsters' science questions

Parents are failing to keep up with their children's scientific knowledge, a survey suggests.

Researchers for the Big Bang UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair interviewed 2,000 parents of children aged between five and 16.

Two-thirds of parents said they struggled with their children's science queries and a quarter felt frustrated.

Professor Brian Cox, a spokesman for the fair, admitted children's science questions could be tricky.

Almost one in three parents said they were quizzed by their curious offspring on a daily basis. The questions often left parents embarrassed by their own failure to provide answers.

Professor Cox said: "With more and more youngsters getting stuck into science and maths both in and out of school, it's no wonder they are constantly questioning the world around them.

"Inquisitive minds are fantastic but clever questions can leave parents in a tricky situation if they don't have the answers.

"The best thing parents can do is work with their children to find the answers. Not only can it be fun, but you'll both learn something new along the way."

Children's enjoyment of science and maths was not always shared by their parents, with more than half of those surveyed saying the subjects filled them with dread.

More than a quarter of parents thought their offspring knew more about maths and science than they did.

Some added that their children's enthusiasm was fuelled by television series such as Frozen Planet or Wonders of the Universe.

About a third of parents said they actively researched answers to their children's inquiries.

But 16% told their children to ask their partner and a fifth made up a response or pretended that no one knew the answer.

One in five parents wished they had taken more of an interest in maths and science at school, with 10% of mothers saying their lack of knowledge stemmed from poor support and encouragement for girls in the subjects when they were at school.

The interviews were carried out online by Onepoll at the end of November.

The Big Bang Fair, which is designed to encourage more young people into science, technology, engineering and maths, will take place in March at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham.

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